Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn."*

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”
I Corinthians 12:4-6

Reading about your various God-given passions and talents has been so inspiring for me as well as others. I can see how God can and will not only use your passions to impact others lives but also to impact your own personal lives as they bring you closer to him. Just as Shawna’s avid interest in plants and Caroline’s talent for singing brings them closer to God as they worship Him within these talents so too, can we be inspired to use our own passions to bring us closer to the One who gifted us with them. Michelle’s passion for politics and the health of her family can help others to become more active about preserving the temple with which Christ entrusted us with as well as helping to promote a better environment (socially, spiritually, physically, etc.) of which we surround ourselves and raise our children. Kim’s gift of evangelism shows us our gifts, when used right at home, are most rewarding when they are for the soul-saving benefits of our own children. Jean beautifully segues her multiple interests and passions from B.P. (before parenthood) to A.P. (after parenthood) while her work ethic professionalizes her stay-at-home-mom role. Stacy advises us on searching for our passions and shows us how our passions can be closer than we think they are. Erin asks some poignant questions about what and who our passions are dependent upon, and are we allowing ourselves to be open and ready for when our passions “visit” us? And the global lens Raluca sees through shows not only black but also various colors of God’s beauty, and her passions for others less fortunate impacts some of her parenting choices. I think most of us can relate to Susan when she writes about being passionate about a variety of different things as opposed to just one major passion to live by, and that it is still good.

All of our passions and gifts are being used by God in some way for His glory. Whether it’s being His hands and serving others or being His choir and singing His praises. When God gifts these passions to us, He understands what will make our hearts sing. And those songs ascend straight to heaven and become good and pleasing to His ears.

My Princess…You are My Gifted One. I have given you the gift of eternal life, but My giving does not stop there. Inside of you is a supernatural surprise – a gift that is waiting to be unwrapped…by you. Yes, it’s there. It’s hidden behind dreams waiting to be pursued. Swallowed up by daily distractions and drowned by disappointment. Let Me help you clear out the clutter and find your gift. You’ll find it in that place in life that brings you the greatest joy, that place where you soul longs to be, that work your hands love to do. But this gift that I’ve given to you is not just for you. I have blessed you to be a blessing to others. When you find your gift, I will take it and multiply it beyond what you could ever imagine. So ask Me, and I will help you open your gift so that you can give it away to the world – not to impress – but to bless.

Your King and the Giver of every good and perfect gift1

“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” I Peter 4:10, CEV
Thank you all for being so open and sharing about your passions. It has helped us all to know each other better and more fondly. I look forward to hearing from more of you in the weeks and months to come on this blog. You all are my community which I am definitely passionate about!


* John Wesley taken from
1 His Princess: Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tim, a close childhood friend of mine, recently married a Korean American woman named Suwha. She was a lawyer for five years at Hale & Dorr, one of the best law firms in Boston… and she hated it. She quit the firm last year a month before her wedding and now is taking a hiatus to figure out what she wants to do next. At a family gathering at Christmas, Suwha told me that in the Korean culture, having and pursuing an articulated passion is a critically important component of one’s life. Her parents are both professors and have thrown themselves into their academic lives with the vigor and intensity that is customary in that culture. Suwha felt somewhat stressed out that she couldn’t identify her “one main passion” that she wanted to pursue with her all. I don’t blame her… what a lot of pressure! But not having and following a passion in South Korea translates into a character flaw at best and a failure at worst.

I think I would probably feel like a failure if I were a South Korean. I’m not totally sure what my general passions are – let alone being able to identify one main overarching one.

“Passion” according to is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” My husband is a person of evident passion – though he tends to be serially passionate about different topics across time. For the past three years, his main passion has been farming. He just adores it. He thinks about it all the time; reads about it virtually daily (books and blogs); and uses nearly all his spare time to work or plan work on our farm . Any fool could see that farming is his passion.

I don’t have a passion of this type – something that consumes me or compels me to that degree. I don’t think this is necessarily bad; he and I are just have different personality types. He is wired to be a “throw yourself in with both feet and forget all else” type of person, and I’m not.
But I do have a “strong fondness or enthusiasm” for several different things, and I guess these could be considered my passions… So here they are.

Relationships. I have always been a very relational person. I like people and find it natural and gratifying to develop deep connections with individuals, learning and sharing thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Since I talk quite a lot, this typically happens with relative ease for me. My natural propensity is also to stay in touch with people, so many of my friendships date back for years or decades. So I feel passion for the people I care about in my life, and for maintaining my connection to them. This is true of my family probably more so than anyone else (my nuclear family and family of origin.)

Writing. I can’t imagine not writing. I have always enjoyed writing and find it flows quickly and fairly easily for me… sort of like the talking, I guess! I usually have words at my fingertips, ready to go. I’ve kept a journal of one type or another since I was in grade school; my current version is a Word document that I started in Oct 2001 and is now more than 200 pages. It’s a way that I process life sort through my thoughts and emotions. Much of my consulting work involves writing, which is one reason that job is a good fit for me. And many of my friendships are maintained over years through letters and emails. I have played around with some more formal types of writing too with an eye toward publication… In the back of my mind, I have often thought that I would enjoy writing a book at some stage in my life, when the time is right.

Personal histories. I like to record life as it happens, and I’ve kept a scrapbook since I was 16. My books aren’t really pretty, they usually aren’t decorative, and don’t even contain many photographs. They are mostly filled with ticket stubs, invitations, notes, letters – items from my life that are meaningful to me. Since I got involved with Creative Memories, virtually all the scrapbooks I’ve made have been gifts for other people centered around their personal histories. I am currently doing one for my father-in-law, who will be 85 this summer, and I’ve interviewed him about WWII and all manner of things from life in the early 1900’s. I was a college history major, and capturing personal life stories in this way seems to be how I’ve adopted living history in my own life.

Running. I enjoy running, but I’m not really passionate about running for its own sake. I love running because of how alive it makes me feel. Something about being outside and connecting with the earth and sky awakens something in me. The continuous motion and changing scenery is therapeutic, and usually if I take a long enough run, I can think and pray better than in almost any other setting. My best observations and ideas often come to me when I’m running.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Passions ... So many

Hi, Everyone,

I hope my little post will be a little interesting or at least help me make sense of my thoughts, passions, time and life in general . . .WOW . . . I'm probably already confusing everyone, but that's what you girls get for asking a non-American to post on an English speaking blog . . . :)
So . . . what was I saying? . . . yes . . . passions. I think I have a lot of passions in my life and I'm actually very glad and thankful that God gave me so many (though very surprised that He found room to put them all.)
I'm not going to bore you with all of them, since I am just going to mention three or five. In any case, I don't really have any time to do anything about my other passions for now anyways, other than just suffering in silence.
My first passion is - and I hope it will always be - God and His amazing plan for this world (which by the way, I am very happy that I don't have to actually understand, since that would bring a lot of frustration to my already very limited mind). I won't discuss this passion in detail here, but it plays many roles in my life in very intricate ways.
My major passion was added a few years ago, when my children showed up in my life, which had been pretty boring up to that point. They started showing up at the most unplanned and unwished for moments (from my earthly perspective). In the meanwhile, I humbly learned that their arrival was indeed perfectly timed. I'm still not passionate about cooking dinner for my family, or cleaning or other fun things like that, but I am very passionate about my kids and my husband. (Since I gave up trying to mold my husband I am left with the job of molding my two adorable children.)
I want to be able to show them the world the way it is, without painting it pink or lavender. This is a task where godly wisdom is highly needed, wanted and asked for (as often as I remember to ask for it). I want my children to see as much of the world as possible and understand that, in the times we live, there are really only a few boundaries between countries and continents, and those are mostly only on paper (in this case very important papers). What I mean is that I want my children to understand that most of their actions have a reaction someplace else in the world. That, for every “second” toy or sweater that they want, there will be less or none for others (I'm not saying that we are even entitled to the “first”, only that we are blessed with it). We are commanded to live responsibly and with great, caring hearts for other people. I think it is easier (though not easy) to just live responsibly than it is to live both responsibly and live with a caring heart for others. From my understanding, it takes a lot more sacrifice to do the latter. Anyway, I want my children to willingly chose to live with less and to give as much as they can to others (I need God to help me here since I personally fail at this a lot, but than again that is why we have God).
Living on less also means making very well informed decisions about where that “less” is coming from. I really want my children to be as un-materialistic as humanly possible. And this is where two of my other passions come in and those are poverty and the environment.
I strongly support trying to minimize poverty and taking care of the earth (which, incidentally, is more than capable of sustaining people all over the world if only we could stop abusing it for the sake of convenience). I think it's sad and aggravating to see how we as humans treat each other, and how easy it is to draw lines between us (the affluent) and them (the poor), especially when they are removed form our daily experiences. I am very interested in third world countries and in how our behavior (in both the first and second worlds) feeds the vicious cycle of poverty. (By the way, I do not consider Romania a poor country, merely one with a very unfortunate history that has left a sad mark on its people.)
Fighting poverty is not a passion that I can pursue as much as I want to, given the time restrictions applied by my previously mentioned passions (a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old to be more specific). But I try as much as I can to discourage exploitative behavior and to be thankful for all that God has given me without constantly wanting more just because there is the possibility of having more.
I think the world we live in is very black - a lot of that stemming from our sinful nature - and I want my kids to understand that, but I also want them to be able to see the beauty that still exists in the world thanks to our unfailing God (I bet you thought I can only see black). I want them to enjoy this life, but to enjoy it because they live it through God's eyes, and also because they see the greatness that awaits us beyond death. I think that there is hope and beauty in this world, but it is not in people, it is in God.
The beauty of seeing this world through God's eyes (as well as I can) is what makes me pick up a camera and shoot away (ok, financial needs do have something do with it, but I'm still trying to figure out how to actually make money with it...:) ). It is a blessing to be able to capture moments in time, in a way that will always move my heart (wow that sounded so cheesy). It is indeed a blessing for me to be able to try to make a living doing something that I love and that gives me the flexibility of investing time in my family as well.
I have other passions too, but if you want to know about those, you will have to ask me in person, because this is getting wayyyyyyyyyyy tooooooo loooooooooong.
As a conclusion, I pray that my kids will be better than me at keeping their eyes on God and eternity and that they will see the world for what it is and be willing to fight God's battles - and not their own - on this earth.
I pray the same thing for myself too. . . :)
Do I hear an AMIN . . . . . ? :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pursuing Passions

People have a tendency to label me as a “passionate person.” I have never really agreed with this label, I’ve only recognized the fact that people clearly know how opinionated I can be. I have never equated being passionate with being opinionated. To me, being passionate requires more than spouting off your beliefs to anyone who will listen. To base my passions on my opinions only produces a list so overwhelming I get exhausted at the thought of it. To legitimately call something a passion of mine requires more from me than just lip service. It requires action, dedication, commitment, and follow-through.

That being said, my alarming reality is one of very little passion. It’s true.

I am passionate about mothering. I spend the majority of my waking hours doing this. I have made countless sacrifices, read innumerable books on the subject and spend a significant amount of time discussing parenting with others. Even when I am in the process of active mothering, I am constantly assessing, evaluating and reflecting on this “ginormous” part of my life.

Every other passion I hold (or have held) pales in comparison, quite frankly.

I would like to say I am equally passionate about being a wife (especially striving for that Proverbs 31-impossible-to-meet-standard) but I know I don’t spend nearly as much time / thought / energy on this area of my life. Sadly, it certainly seems to come second.

No doubt I know I need to be passionate about God and that this really should be my first passion. But God is such an abstract concept in light of these two little people ready to demand more of me than I have to give at a moment’s notice. At best, God comes third. At worst, He is a bleep on my radar that I just don’t have time for.

I am passionate about health. I have spent a great deal of time exploring my own health and evaluating the care provided by medical professionals. Through my on-going struggles with infertility and chronic acne I have realized what I ultimately want is healing, which is rarely the goal of any health care professional I’ve met. I have come to a lot of conclusions about our culture’s approach to wellness and I have decided the common road is not for me. Instead, I spend a great deal of time reading and educating myself about alternative solutions and how to achieve true health and wellness.

I am passionate about making a difference in this world and have dreamed up countless ways to do this. However, I have come rather recently to realize the greatest way I can achieve this is through “training up my children in the way they should go.” It hasn’t been easy to admit this, because it requires a much delayed sense of gratification (or worse, never knowing the difference made at all) and it also requires swallowing a rather large pride – one that would rather have me center stage at a Billy Graham crusade or a Soul Fest – inspiring the multitudes with my words. But God is working on me – showing me the immeasurable importance of my task at hand – teaching my children so that they may teach their children and so on and so on, creating a legacy of God’s children that will last an eternity.

Lastly -

I am passionate about community. I don’t mean my town or my neighborhood. The New Testament word would be “fellowship.” I ache to experience the church of Acts in my life – faith-filled families meeting together in each other’s homes to study the Word of God together, to challenge and support each other, break bread together, share resources as each one needs, lovingly hold each other accountable to the commands of Scripture and be the Body of Christ. The tough part about this passion, no matter the reading I do on this vision, the time I dedicate to planning, thinking, dreaming, no matter the seriousness I take in approaching this topic – without other’s who share in this passion as passionately as I do, this passion turns into nothing but a dream.

This week, whether you are meeting with us or not, I would like to challenge you to consider the passions you have that are dependent upon criteria outside of your control. Is there anything you can do? Maybe, like me, you long for a new baby in your family – are you living as healthy a lifestyle possible to make sure your body, mind and emotions are ready to bring forth new life? Are you passionate about your marriage (but maybe your husband isn’t so much)? - are you focusing on trying to change him or are you honestly evaluating yourself, striving to be the best wife – the best “help mate” to him possible? Are you passionate about community or friendship, but find you lack a group who shares your vision or you lack that kindred spirit? Are you doing all you can to be ready, to be available, to be vulnerable and transparent, to reach out, even when other’s don’t seem to be reaching out to you? Are you living with right priorities? Are there more important matters being lost at the expense of pursuing another passion?

These are not easy questions to answer, at least, not for me.

If you are one of the lucky few who’s passions don’t depend on anyone (or anything) else, than I certainly hope you can say you are pursing them! If not, why not? What is stopping you?

I look forward to our discussions.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Treasure Hunt

"Finding" my passion has been something like a Treasure Hunt this past year.

Preparing for The Hunt:
Years ago I came across an audio presentation at the local library from Cheryl Richardson called Finding Your Passion. I listened to it passionately, felt the excitement in her voice, agreed with much of what she said, but that was about it. I was busy taking care of life as it happened around me. Recently, due to feeling restless, bored, and quite unpassionate, in addition to having an exceptionally long commute I pulled it out and listened to it again. This time with a bit more maturity under my belt, a genuine willingness to explore, and with heart and mind more opened through fervent prayers to pursue God's purpose for me in this life, I listened.

Starting The Hunt:
Since I typically keep my journal close by at all times, I took the opportunity to write down some questions and thoughts I had while listening. As the next few weeks sped past me I found the value in what I call "letting things marinate" in my mind, heart, and soul. As I became more infused with the flavors of passion and awareness, I realized I had some preconceived notions about what a passion-filled life means. Notion #1: I will ALWAYS love what I am doing when I am pursuing my passions. Notion #2: I will rarely run into obstacles or barriers if I am TRULY doing what I feel passionate about. So, I started changing the questions I asked myself. I asked: What do I do that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of the day? What have I done on those days that I feel I've made a difference in the world around me?

Finding The Treasures:
I sat for quite some time with those last two questions mulling around in my heart. An answer would pop up and I would note it, and then leave room again for the question until I felt I was as aware as I wanted to be about the passions within me. In reflecting upon the things I had made mental notes of, I realized that my life was already full of activities, work, pastimes, and hobbies I am passionate about.

The Treasures:
The realization that my passions were overflowing in my life was by far one of the most personally valuable treasures I encountered. It gave meaning and purpose where none had been before. It increased my sense of fulfillment in my day-to-day activities. I was able to see God's hand even more in the paths He had placed me on. More than anything, having an awareness of the gifts, talents, and passions I had been blessed with, increased my gratitude and sheer awe in the God who created me. I felt more connected to Him and felt The Holy Spirit confirm His love and adoration for me as my Heavenly Father. Both my faith and trust increased exponentially.

What else did I find, you ask?

I commute 1.5 hours one way to work every day. Perhaps to everyone else, I am stating the obvious, but I discovered on this recent journey I am passionate about my job and profession. I saw for the first time that there's NO WAY I would tolerate a minimum of 3 hours driving per day if I wasn't absolutely dedicated to what I was doing. I supervise a mental health outpatient clinic for children and families. The children I work with have been ravaged by abuse, neglect, drug abuse, violence, crime, poor education, and poverty. They are supposed to be taken care of by a state system that is faulty, laden with corruption, and values $$ and compliance more than quality services for children. In this environment there are myriads of things I could focus on, but what I value as a manager is supporting and encouraging my staff members who include case managers, behavior specialists, and therapists to do the best job they can do. I try to provide a working environment at our office and through their interactions with me where they can be as effective, productive, sensitive, and thorough as they possibly can for the children and the demands placed upon them. I am available (pretty much 24/7) to provide direction, discernment, supervision, and most of all to listen. Although I am no longer on the front lines so-to-speak, my heart breaks, I shed many tears, and say numerous prayers over the children we serve. I've increased my openness about my faith in my work environment and as a result have encountered several women who are fervent Christians. Our lives have been enriched as we share our faith-filled conversations and thoughts with each other. Although I experience many difficulties and frustrations. I leave at the end of most days feeling like I have made a difference in at least one child's life.

I am passionate about Erin, Bohdan, and our adoption. I love this woman more than I can ever express. I am grateful that she seems as passionate about our relationship as I am. In my busy, busy life, she is one of the only people I make time to communicate with regularly. Erin and I are into our 4th year of a friendship forged through a shared motherhood. Every day, my Heavenly Father confirms for me that this precious little guy is in the family he is supposed to be in. From afar, I love him, and do my best to love and support his mother as she faces the struggles and joys of parenting. My relationship with Erin has taught me about my character, dedication, compassion, and so much more. I dedicate time every year to create scrapbook pages for Bohdan so that he can see his brothers and sisters grow and keep abreast of their activities, likes / dislikes, and interests. Hopefully by the end of this year I will have completed the things I need to in order to start working with birth mothers again as they struggle their way through emotions, societal norms, family values, guilt, and make the decision to either keep or place their baby for adoption.

I am passionate about creating meaning out of paths my life and the lives of my children have taken as well as creating something tangible to represent that meaning. I utilize several avenues to accomplish this: quilting, scrapbooking, and artwork. Currently, I am working on a project for my daughter, Brianne, who is going to college next year. It is a scrapbooked collection of character-defining moments in her life, quotes, poems, thoughts, and excerpts from a variety of women about their lives. My desire was to provide my daughter with input from women other than myself about how they have handled different decisions, and what advice they would give, or thoughts they would share with a young woman as she discovers who she is. I wanted her to know there are many "right" paths. Maybe I could ask some of you too.

I am passionate about creating environments that are esthetically pleasing, calm, peaceful, efficient, clean, and organized.

I am passionate about off-roading in my Jeep. Anything I would do that requires I pack a cooler, maxed-out diaper bag, and Jeep full of supplies along with a 9mo. old, 2 yr. old and 7 yr old. for a 10 hour day of driving along muddy trails in 105 degrees equates to a passion.

All in all I found far more than what I thought I was looking for. I believe additional passions will reveal themselves with time and as my life circumstances change, but for now, I am peacefully passionately busy.

With Love--Stacy
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